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Ford says Mondeo platform shared with Lincoln will boost sales

Ford says its new Mondeo will compete better in Europe’s shrinking mid-sized segment because it has a sophisticated new platform that was also designed to underpin the automaker’s U.S. luxury brand.

“The suspension and platform were developed to be capable for Lincoln as well, so it needs to be state of the art,” Ford’s outgoing assistant global line director for CD platform cars, Darren Palmer, told Automotive News Europe at a press event here.

The Mondeo will go on sale in Europe at the end of the year, competing against models such as the Volkswagen Passat, Europe’s best-selling mid-sized car, and the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia.

The Mondeo is built off Ford’s global CD4 platform, which also underpins its U.S. sibling, the Fusion. The platform will also be used for the forthcoming S-Max and Galaxy minivans, as well as the Edge large SUV.

The first Lincoln car to use the platform will be the Edge-based MKX, Palmer said.

Sales of mid-sized cars in Europe are falling as customers opt for rival models from German premium brands and crossovers.

Ford sold 22,028 Mondeos in Europe in the first five months, down from 19,072, the year before, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics.

IHS Automotive predicts that overall volumes in the mid-sized segment will fall to below 500,000 in western Europe this year, down from just over 800,000 in 2011.

Ford is introducing the upscale Vignale trim for the Mondeo next summer in a bid to boost Mondeo sales.

The new Mondeo’s introduction was delayed by two years after Ford switched production to its Valencia factory in Spain from its factory in Genk, Belgium, which will shut at the end of this year.

The CD4 platform will eventually underpin 10 models, with an expected combined annual volume of 1.2 million, Palmer said.

One example of the platform’s sophistication is the use of unequal bush sizes on the suspension control arms. “That has been the preserve of premium cars before because it’s more complex, expensive and difficult in the production process,” he said. The advantage is that it allows the suspension to be tuned for better handling and ride comfort, Palmer said.

Ford plans to cut the number of its global platforms to nine from 15 it currently uses.

Palmer said currently more than 85 percent of Ford’s global volume for cars and light commercial vehicles comes from the nine platforms. The automaker’s goal is to build all its vehicles from nine platforms.